Ah the family vacation! - a time to relax, hang out with family, unwind, and unplug. Or is it? A story in last week's Washington Post took a look at the number of families, particularly those with teens, who stayed connected to technology while on family vacations. The author talked to families on vacation from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and they found that while some parents set limits, others are more likely to allow kids even "screen time" via Xboxes, laptops, and texting than they do when the kids are in school. After all, the kids are on vacation too, right?
The story got me thinking, because (surprisingly) I'm of two minds on this issue. As a green mom, I'm all about unplugging with technology and connecting whenever possible. You can't have a conversation with kids if they (or you) are having a separate conversation via text. But as a self-employed working mom, I almost always take my laptop with me on vacations, and I never go anywhere without my smartphone. As anyone who works for themselves knows, it's easier to relax when I know that emergencies aren't piling up for me at home. I also happen to love what I do, so checking in once or twice while I'm away to learn the latest eco-news is actually just as interesting to me as reading a good book.
My kids are young now - barely even in elementary school - so they aren't really connected to anything yet. Although my 7 year old has already lobbied for her own cell phone, I think I'm still several years away from that becoming a reality. But I can't help but wonder how I will handle these gadgets when my girls do get connected. Will I allow texting and cell phones on vacation? If I'm doing it, shouldn't they be allowed to as well?
So I'm throwing this out there and asking for advice. Parents of tweens and teens: how do you handle technology when you and your family are away on vacation? Do you give kids unlimited access, set boundaries, or leave the gadgets at home?